I would have never guessed that a quote from Thucydides would pop into my head as I watched the USA basketball team play Serbia in the championship game. But I guess I have my Poli Sci class to thank for that.
The International Basketball Federation, aka FIBA, just finished their 17th world cup games. It was always a competitive tournament up until the last 8 years, where the USA team has dominated. Therefore, no surprise that this year team USA took home the gold medal, without much contest. The final score for the championship game was 129 to 92. That is nowhere near being a close game, especially for the championship game.
During lecture the quote that really stuck out to me was the key take away from the Melian dialogue “The strong will do what they can and the weak will suffer what they must”. Thucydides described how the very powerful Athenians gave the Melians an ultimatum; surrender or be destroyed. The much smaller Melians tried to reason with the Athenians saying they were neutral and saw no reason for a fight. But the Athenians would not back down. The Melians had too much pride to surrender, and had nothing to lose so they decided to fight.
Throughout the whole tournament team USA was the Athenians and anyone we played were the Melians. Every country knew they were going to lose; all they could do was play there hardest and hope that the score is somewhat respectable. These other teams couldn’t just forfeit the game against team USA so they would play, knowing that no one expected them to win. So even if they made it a close game, it would be a positive for them.
I could not help but wonder what these teams were thinking as they went into the game versus USA. The “strong” USA team would literally do anything they wanted, throwing crazy alley oops and beating teams by 30 points. Where the “weak” just had to suffer until the game was over. In the game versus Finland, team USA more than doubled Finland’s score, which is horribly embarrassing.
In my opinion playing in the FIBA tournament is only a bad thing for team USA and I think we should stop playing in it. We know that we are the most basketball dominant country in the world. No one is impressed if we win, and if we ever lose it will be an extremely brutal blow to our self-esteem. Not only that but it leads to unnecessary injury. Paul George is a perfect example. The Indiana Pacers were one of the favorites to win it all next year; a main reason was because of their stud Paul George. But now they are not because Paul George severely injured his lower right leg in a scrimmage preparing for the FIBA tournament. If he had not been on the team or if USA didn’t participate in the tournament he would never been injured. I am positive that if you ask any Pacer’s fan, they will tell you that it was stupid for him to be playing for FIBA. Not worth it at all.
Also, if the US does not play in the games it allows for another team to win. It actually means something to them and their country. We have proven that we are the strong. It is time to allow the weak to stop suffering from team USA. Let the weak play the weak, and then it will at least be competitive.
Team USA is just too good and to valuable to be playing in the FIBA tournament. Maybe the Athenians should have done the same against the Melians. Yes, they beat the Melians but for what? They were expected to win so no one was impressed and they ended up losing a lot of resources for a pointless victory. Just like losing Paul George in a pointless scrimmage. When you know you are the best, you do not need to go out and do meaningless things just to keep proving your dominance.
– Johnny Luciani